A monument dedicated to Russian Empress Catherine the Great, nee Sophie Augusta Frederica, Princess of Anhalt-Zerbst, was erected in the East German town of Zerbst (Saxony-Anhalt) where the young princess spent her childhood.
The 4,7-meter bronze monument was opened on July 9th , 2010. It was made by the famous Moscow sculptor Michael Pereyaslavets, member of the Russian Academy of Arts.
The idea of Catherine monument was first put into practice in 1996. The initiator was the non- profit International Historical Society “ Catherine the Great” founded in 1992 in Zerbst. The Russian Nobility Association basing in Moscow took also part in developing of that idea.
The sculpture of Empress Catherine II is put up in front of the Zerbst town hall which has been restored in Baroque style. The statue of Catherine II looks towards her ancestral castle which was destroyed on April 16th, 1945. Nowadays the ruins of the east wing of the castle are still preserved. The non-profit “Zerbst Castle Restoration Trust e.V.” was founded in 2003. Its main aims are “the preservation of the existing historical remains of the castle and the reconstruction of the exterior of the east wing in a style faithful to the original”. You can find more information about activities of the Trust on website: http://www.schloss-zerbst-ev.de/
The Catherine monument opening ceremony was honored by the presence of highly guests from Russia and Germany. Mr Helmut Behrendt, Mayor of the town of Zerbst; welcomed representatives of the Ambassador of the Russian Federation to Germany and representatives of the government of the federal state of Saxony-Anhalt.
Guests taking part in the Catherine monument opening ceremony in Zerbst were enthusiastic about the celebration program and the guidance through the ancestral castle of Catherine the Great.
Zerbst, September 24th , 2010
Annegret Mainzer Ex-Chairman of the International Historical Society “Catherine the Great” of Zerbst 1999- 2009
10th Anniversary of the Museum of Catherine the Great in Zerbst, Germany
In March of 1995, the Council of the East German town of Zerbst, situated in Saxony-Anhalt decided to open a museum to honor the Russian Czarina Catherine the Great, nee Sophia Augusta Frederica, Princess of Anhalt-Zerbst. The museum opened on September 2nd, 1995.
The participants in this endeavor included the International Historical Society “Catherine the Great” of Zerbst as well as the famous patron Baron Eduard of Falz-Fein of Liechtenstein, and the Municipal Authority of Zerbst.
For the Grand Opening of the Museum, Baron Eduard of Falz-Fein donated two exhibits to the museum: a bronze bust of Catherine II made by G. Houdon and a portrait of the Czarina by Pietro Rotari.
Incidentally, September 1, 1995, the day before the Museum’s opening, marked the 250th Anniversary of the Wedding of Princess Sophia Augusta Frederica of Anhalt-Zerbst and Karl Peter Ulrich, Duke of Holstein-Gottorp. Today we know them as Czarina Catherine the Great and Czar Peter III.
The Museum’s opening day attracted many representatives of both international and German politics, culture and business. Visitors from the Russian town of Pushkin also participated. Zerbst and Pushkin have been twin towns since 1994.
After speeches were made, people enjoyed the sounds of traditional Russian bells. Then there was complete silence, The wedding of the Czarina and Czar was about to be reenacted: The wedding parade approached the Gentlemen’s Houses: there were 20 solemnly dressed girls and boys strewing flowers.
Sixteen-year-old Ina Lemke appeared as Catherine the Great as she and Baron Eduard of Falz-Fein inaugurated the new museum, balloons and pigeons were released into the sky. The people involved with the museum project were quite pleased with the spectacle.
We can see from the Visitors’ Registry that the Museum of Catherine II is very popular with guests to Zerbst. We receive visitors, of course, from Germany, Russia, and the Ukraine, but also from Poland, Great Britain, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain, and Canada. In the first two years, we received over 9,000 visitors.
For the Fifth Anniversary of the Zerbst Museum, the International Historical Society “Catherine II” and the Russian State Historical Archive of St. Petersburg organized an exhibition in which historical documents from the Duchy of Anhalt-Zerbst were shown, which had until that time been kept in Russia.
2005 will mark the 10th Anniversary of the Museum of Catherine the Great. A Czarina’s Ball will be held to honor that occasion in September, 2005 at the Zerbst town hall. The town hall has been restored in an 17th and 18th century style for the Ball.
To conclude, I would like to say how happy we and the people of Zerbst are to continue to welcome visitors to our museum of Catherine the Great.
Chairman of the International Historical Society “Catherine the Great” of Zerbst